When my friend Yvette suggested dinner out an African restaurant, how could I say no? She and her family spent three months at the beginning of this year in Ethiopia and have been looking for Ethiopian ingredients and restaurants since. When they returned, they gave me an Ethiopian cookbook from which I have been wanting to make so much but some of the ingredients are hard to come by here in Sydney, if not impossible. If anyone knows where to get tef, true berbere or mekelesha, another spice blend, please let me know!
So Yvette's family and the girls and I all headed out to Bankstown to
African Village Cafe and Restaurant
359 Chapel Rd
Bankstown NSW 2200
Ph: 9790 2696
What we found was an Ethiopian restaurant, decorated with, I am told, authentic Ethiopian pictures and artefacts. The owner explained that, yes, it is an Ethiopian restaurant but she thought that African in the name would be more appealling to people and she also offers some other African dishes. She and some other customers were all very interested that Yvette and her family had spent time in Ethiopia and had learnt some Amharic, the language spoken there.
Since I didn't know any of the dishes and the others were obviously craving certain ones, I let them decide which dishes from the menu we would choose to have in the combination platter served with injera, the traditional Ethiopian bread.
While deciding, we all had some other delicious Ethiopian bread which was quite sweet with a brioche texture
But we were not to get a choice of which dishes to have! The injera and the 5 dishes were brought out - must have been what the owner either thought they would want or that was what she was cooking that day, so that was what we were getting!
We were served a split pea stew, a very spicy lamb stew, spinach, mixed vegetables and a mince dish (this was the mildest and the most popular with the children).
The injera was made with tef, which the owner brings in herself, and another flour, we think was millet. I was told that yes, it was the authentic colour and taste and I must say it was delicious. We need tef to be available for humans in Australia, not just stock feed!
|My plate of food|
I found the dishes to all be really tasty, some a little spicy (great for the sinuses and my ears did unblock!) and although when it first came out, I wasn't sure whether it would be enough food for 7 people, it was surprisingly filling and we didn't even get through it all! The girls were very good trying all the dishes, Amy finished all of hers but Sophie found some a bit too spicy for her liking. The injera was the highlight as was eating with their hands and using the bread to scoop rather than cutlery!!
After the meal, Yvette's husband and I had the Ethiopian coffee. This is freshly roasted and served in a special pot. It did have a slightly burnt smell when she brought the beans out but I really enjoyed the flavour. Apparently they do the Ethiopian coffee ceremony on a Sunday.
The service was certainly relaxed and definitely not rushed. It was a little difficult to find the owner to pay the bill but she was in the kitchen getting some takeaway sorted for some customers. No, they didn't get to choose either! We found this not getting to choose despite getting a menu to be very amusing.
Dessert is apparently not something that is usual in Ethiopia so we didn't have any but the lady did say that if she'd known there would be 4 children, she would have prepared something sweet - might let her know next time. And yes, there will definitely be a next time! I'm hooked!